The National Guard helped distribute food during the pandemic. Many of its members struggle with hunger at home.

The National Guard saw record levels of deployment in 2020, as members were called on to distribute aid at food banks early in the pandemic, then again to support vaccination campaigns later in the year. These demands may have come at a steep personal cost: Guard members and advocates say that many lost income and struggled to cover their own expenses over the course of the pandemic, potentially driving a surge in hunger. A core issue here is the military’s compensation rules: Members are not eligible for housing allowances or medical coverage unless they are deployed for more than 30 days; many of last year’s deployments fell short of this threshold, while still reducing members’ ability to make income from other sources. Why isn’t this a more visible issue among military leadership? Stigma is a major barrier: Many National Guard members might downplay their food insecurity or opt out of food assistance programs due to shame, advocates and anti-hunger orgs point out. The Washington Post has the story.

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